If you’re looking to buy a robot vacuum but don’t want to spend too much money, the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum is here to take on the likes of iRobot and Dyson and other high-end models.
iRobot recently introduced the Roomba 960 at a lower cost of $699.99, and Dyson’s 360 Eye robot vacuum costs $999. Neato recently introduced the Botvac D3 Connected ($399) and Neato Botvac D5 Connected ($599), both of which have lower costs compared to previous models.
The Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum, the company’s first foray into robot vacuums, costs $380 on GearBest, and a lot of experts have questioned the viability of this product because it is so cheap. I want to share my experience with the Mi robot vacuum, including how well it cleans, navigates, and works via the Mi Home app.
Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum cleaning performance
I like to conduct the popular “big mess test” when reviewing robot vacuums. So with the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum, I tested how it would clean up paper, rolled oats, and baby powder. And since I don’t have carpet in my home, I primarily tested the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum on linoleum. This isn’t your typical ever day mess that this robot will encounter, but I like to test the limits of the robot.
The first thing you will notice is that it struggled with the baby powder, leaving a lot of residue as it went along its cleaning path. Granted, I sprinkled a lot of powder on the floor.
The Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum did well with the rolled oats and paper, only missing a small amount.
Unlike the Roomba 980 that has acoustic sensors that detect the amount of dirt, the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum does not have this feature and uses the same cleaning pattern no matter how much dirt there is. So thoroughness with big messes is a downside. But to be fair, you probably wouldn’t rely on a robot vacuum to clean a mess of this size.
Can the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum clean multiple rooms?
Yes. I tested the robot vacuum in my small home that has an internal floor area of around 25 square meters.
When you turn on the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum, you’ll notice that before it cleans, it stops and scans the room 360 degrees to map the perimeter and any obstacles that will be in its path. The Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum then proceeds to clean the perimeter of the room before cleaning the central part in a back and forth cleaning pattern.
Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum Features at a Glance
Uses SLAM algorithm similar to other top robot vacuum brands
Equipped with 12 sensors to avoid obstacles, falling off cliffs and track positioning
3 powerful processors to calculate most efficient cleaning path
Cleans multiple rooms
5,200 mAH lithium ion battery runs for around 2.5 hours on a single charge
Nidec DC motor (same motor on Roomba 980) has an output of 1,900Pa
But if you take a closer look you’ll see that it actually does something smart. It divides your home into smaller “sections.” Inside my home, I have the robot inside the guest room, but when I want it to clean the whole level I just leave all the doors open. It cleaned the guest room first, then the hallway, then the master bedroom. After cleaning all three sections, it goes back to the dock, knowing where it is. No guesswork, it’s precision at work thanks to the SLAM algorithm and three powerful processors that compute all the data gathered from the sensors.
When you compare the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum to other Chinese brands, it stands head and shoulders above the rest, mainly because of its navigation. Most of its competitors, both below and some above $200, use an old method that relied on IR sensors and a random cleaning pattern. This method is very inefficient, and if your home is large, there’s a good chance the robot vacuum won’t find its home base.
Instead of IR sensors, the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum uses a Laser Distance Sensor (LDS), which is the same type of sensor found in the Neato Botvac Connected. The primary function of the LDS is to scan the perimeter of the room and draw a map of your home. It constantly scans the area 360 degrees at 1,800 times per second.
The map created by the LDS sensor is saved inside the robot vacuum’s memory to help it remember the areas it has cleaned and has yet to clean. Combine that with the SLAM algorithm and the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum has a very efficient cleaning pattern.
Other sensors in the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum include a wall sensor that helps it navigate along the perimeter of the room, a drop sensor to prevent it from falling off stairs, a speed sensor, and an ultrasonic sensor.
Mi Home App
The Mi Home app is one of my favorite features of the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum. This app takes advantage of the WiFi connectivity and allow you to control the robot vacuum from just about anywhere where you have an internet connection.
Low price point
2.5 hour run time
Efficient cleaning path
Struggles with fine dirt
No extra filter or side brush
Small dirt bin
App only comes in Chinese
No English manual
I love being able to schedule the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum to clean more than once a day. I’ve tested it to clean twice per day and it actually works.
If you’re the type of person who’s obsessive compulsive about neatness, the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum is a solid option. Not only will it allow you to turn on this robot inside your office or at the gym, it will clean your home multiple times in a day. The app also has a log of the previous times the robot vacuum cleaned with the map of the areas cleaned during each cycle.
When I looked at all the marketing material from Xiaomi, I had the impression you can see the status of the robot in terms of where it is during the cleaning cycle, but that wasn’t the case when I tested it. The only real-time update you will see is the area cleaned, battery life and time elapsed.
As for the map, it only updates once the robot is done cleaning – it gives you a push notification on your phone but that’s about it.
Is the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum a worthy alternative?
Despite the struggles the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum had with the baby powder, I’m still impressed with its overall performance, especially when you consider the price difference between with robot vacuums from Dyson, iRobot and others. And, again, the cleaning test I did does not represent the mess that this robot will encounter every day, but it represents the limits of this robot at least on bare floor.
For everyday cleaning and dusting, power is more than enough, and the 2.5 hour run time will cover a lot of area thanks to the efficiency.
The app itself is a major step forward when you compare this to other Chinese products. Connecting the robot and app isn’t difficult, and the connectivity is pretty stable. I haven’t had any instance yet where the app and robot got disconnected, except the time when I had to reboot my phone.
The biggest downside is the core function of this robot is only available in Chinese. I haven’t gotten any updates just yet on the release date of an English version of the app.
It would probably depend on the demand if Xiaomi feels that it is enough to make the go signal for it.
At $380, the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum certainly is a viable alternative to the more expensive robot vacuums on the market.